Top 10: Young Avengers for the MCU by Jerry Whitworth
As the entertainment world is largely on hold in the wake of the global pandemic, fans are left to speculate about the future of their fandom. In terms of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, phase four with its delayed debut of Black Widow and The Eternals left in the lurch looks to be slowly coming together as The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and WandaVision appear to be on track to emerge on time taking the films’ place jump starting the new slate of content. It’s speculated that this coming phase will focus on key as yet blatantly identified fields in the multiverse, Thunderbolts, and Young Avengers. In terms of the latter, some groundwork has already been laid with Harley Keener (Ty Simpkins), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Shuri (Letitia Wright), Cassie Lang (Emma Fuhrmann), and Morgan Stark (Katherine Langford) in the films as the coming Disney+ television series appear to be bringing Speed and Wiccan (WandaVision), Kate Bishop (Hawkeye), and Ms. Marvel into the mix. Lets take a look at some likely options to fill out the Young Avengers when they inevitably make their Marvel Cinematic Universe debut.
Son of Captain Mar-Vell of the Kree empire and Princess Anelle of the Skrull empire, Dorrek VIII acted as Hulkling, a founding member of the Young Avengers in the comics. Originally keeping his alien heritage a secret, Dorrek assumed the human identity of Teddy Altman that took on a Hulk form hence the name of Hulkling. Carrying on a romance with teammate Wiccan (Billy Kaplan/Maximoff), Dorrek’s secret was inevitably outed by the Super-Skrull. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Mar-Vell was portrayed by Annette Bening who was an ally to the Skrulls trying to help them escape genocide at the hands of the Kree. The Skrulls themselves are shaping up to be a major force moving forward, working alongside Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) as WandaVision is set to feature S.H.I.E.L.D.’s intergalactic arm S.W.O.R.D. with agent Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris). As such, the stage is set for Dorrek to emerge just about anywhere.
His life saved at a young age by the Hulk following the death of his parents, Amadeus Cho is one of the smartest people on Earth who allied with the Hulk when he declared war on the Illuminati. In the wake of this, Cho became heavily involved in the world of superheroes eventually becoming a hero himself in Brawn, a Hulk-like being empowered by nanobots. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Claudia Kim portrayed Helen Cho, a Korean geneticist. Sharing the same name of Amadeus’ mother in the comics, fans have speculated this was a means to bring the young genius into the MCU with a built in connection to the Avengers. Considering the upcoming She-Hulk television series, it’s believed the series will act as a gateway for Hulk characters to emerge for the films and Amadeus Cho is seen as a top contender.
Grandson of a second generation super soldier in the vein of Captain America in Isaiah Bradley and nephew of Josiah al hajj Saddiq (Justice/Josiah X), Eli Bradley wanted to be a hero like his family members. Taking the drug MGH (Mutant Growth Hormone) and donning the guise Patriot, Bradley became a founding member of the Young Avengers. Later, thanks to a blood transfusion from his grandfather, Bradley acquired super soldier powers. Actor Carl Lumbly has been cast in an undisclosed role in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier but some claim he will portray Isaiah Bradley. If true, this maybe an indication to set-up the emergence of Patriot.
Created using the hex powers of the Scarlet Witch Wanda Maximoff, William and Thomas Maximoff were seemingly the sons of the heroine and her husband Vision. Their souls crafted from slivers of the demon Mephisto’s life essence, the boys ceased to exist when the devil reabsorbed their energies. However, their spirits reincarnated and returned in the bodies of Billy Kaplan and Tommy Shepherd. Kaplan became a founding member of the Young Avengers as Wiccan (inheriting his mother’s powers) and the group soon recruited Shepherd as Speed (inheriting his uncle Pietro Maximoff’s powers as the speedster Quicksilver). The trailer for WandaVision and an allegedly leaked script indicate the introduction of the twin heroes in the series.
A wealthy heiress, Kate Bishop was rescued from a kidnapping by the Avengers where she came to idolize Hawkeye. Becoming an expert in the martial arts, fate put the Young Avengers in Bishop’s path when she saved the team during one of their earliest missions seeing her join the group. Gifted the codename Hawkeye by Captain America, Bishop eventually became the original Hawkeye Clint Barton’s partner. The upcoming Disney+ Hawkeye series will feature the emergence of Kate Bishop in the Marvel Cinematic Universe alongside Jeremy Renner as Clint Barton in the role of Ronin.
A teenage Inhuman who underwent Terrigenesis after Black Bolt detonated a Terrigen Bomb as part of his conflict against Thanos, Kamala Khan idolized Carol Danvers with a desire to take after her. When Danvers adopted the new name of Captain Marvel, Khan decided to become a heroine using her idol’s original name of Ms. Marvel. The character’s popularity saw her pop up all over the place, joining teams like the Avengers, Captain Marvel’s Carol Cadets, Champions, Protectors, and the Secret Warriors. Last summer, it was announced Ms. Marvel will be one of the series coming to Disney+ as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Daughter of Ant-Man Scott Lang, Cassie Lang lost her father during the events of “Avengers Disassembled.” Using Pym particles, Cassie took up her father’s mantle as the heroine Stature in the Young Avengers. Cassie Lang has been part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since the first Ant-Man film in 2015 portrayed by Abby Ryder Fortson. Last year, the time jump presented by Avengers: Endgame saw the character recast with Emma Fuhrmann likely to setup her emergence as Stature.
A teenage genius inspired by Iron Man to become a hero, Riri Williams became the armored Ironheart. Supported by an artificial intelligence made by Tony Stark in his own image, Ironheart was a big hit for Marvel. Asked about his future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Robert Downey, Jr. has expressed a desire to abandon his role of Tony Stark/Iron Man given the sendoff the character enjoyed in Avengers: Endgame last year. However, Downey has championed the establishment of Ironheart in the movies with an indication it maybe one of the few moves to attract him to come back.
Sister of the Black Panther and king of Wakanda T’Challa, Shuri rose to the role of her nation’s ruler at the behest of her sister-in-law Ororo Munroe (X-Men’s Storm) when T’Challa fell into a coma. Seeing her country through conflicts with Latveria and Atlantis, Shuri fell in battle only to be later resurrected. Portrayed by Letitia Wright in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Shuri is a breakout character of a breakout brand. Given her status in the MCU, leaving her out of the Young Avengers would almost be unthinkable.
Marvel’s premiere hero, Spider-Man’s inclusion in the Marvel Cinematic Universe seemed to shake the pillars of pop culture. Since then, the character’s prominence in the brand has only grown as Sony has shown a greater acceptance of the benefits it reaps from lending Spider-Man to the most financially successful entertainment entity in human history. While Spider-Man has fought alongside the Avengers in the MCU and was even called an Avenger by Iron Man, there’s nonetheless been something of a disconnect likely due to his youth. Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) demonstrated a reluctance on Peter Parker’s part to take on a larger role in the super hero world which sets the stage for something like the Young Avengers, a team of heroes inspired to do good but not entirely sure of their role in the world.
Honorable mentions: Iron Lad, Iron Maiden, Kid Loki, Jonas, Nova, Miles Morales, Miss America, Noh-Varr/Marvel Boy, X-23, Viv Vision, Namorita, Thor Girl, and Midnight.